‘Strictly confidential’ document shows BAT recruiting medical spin-doctors to work in China



Thursday 19 November 1998

ASH/ Press releases/

 

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Press releaseEmbargo: 11:30 GMT
19 November 1998
ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

‘Strictly confidential’ document shows BAT recruiting medical spin-doctors to work inChina

As researchers predict that 3 million tobacco deaths per year are expected in China bythe middle of the next century, ASH attacked the British tobacco multinational BAT forsponsoring a scientific disinformation campaign in China.

According to a “strictly confidential assignment specification” recentlyobtained by ASH, BAT has recruited medical scientists to deliberately confuse thescientific debate on smoking in China. In the guise of sponsoring open debate aboutChina-specific science, BAT plans to invalidate international experience, buy influence inChinese universities and subordinate its scientific work to the marketing objectives ofthe company. In an advert that did not mention tobacco or BAT, the company says thepostholder:

.”..will be responsible for conducting market research and performing collateral analysis with a view to meeting the company’s commercial and marketing objectives.”

The actual job description states that the post is designed to “place additionalemphasis on supporting the rights of an adult who chooses to smoke” and to resist”pressure for conformity from organisations such as WHO”. Responsibilitiesinclude:

“Portraying the company view on smoking and health to key audiences in China”.

“develop insight into China specific science and bring that information forward to the public and to regulators in order to meet the objectives of the company.”

“Identify and evaluate areas of future research that might be sponsored in Chinese universties.”

“Provide a Chinese Perspective to work produced [elsewhere in BAT] in order to bring sound science to the various smoking and health discussions….”

Clive Bates, Director of ASH, highlighted the conflict between the marketing objectivesof the post and its supposed scientific role. Bates said “BAT talks a lot about soundscience, but the clear purpose of this job is strictly commercial. How can you engage inscientific debate if your real job is to sell cigarettes in China?”

Commenting on the world’s largest study of tobacco deaths released today, Bates added:”the research shows that two thirds of Chinese adults think that smoking does littleor no harm, and no doubt BAT would like to keep it that way.”

“The tobacco multi-nationals are breathless with excitement about the vastpotential of the Chinese market and they are already trying to discredit the science thatmight help China deal with the appalling epidemic of smoking related disease that liesahead.” said Bates.

 

The advert and job description are at <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” papers=”” batjob.html”=””>http://www.ash.org.uk/papers/batjob.html

ENDS

 

Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902

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